Hitachi L42VP01 review: Hitachi L42VP01

The Good Very affordable for a 'Full HD' 1080p 42-inch TV; HD pictures aren't bad, there are quite a few features to explore.

The Bad Colours are slightly muted; standard definition playback isn't the best.

The Bottom Line Provided you can manage to feed it plenty of high-definition fodder, the L42VP01 is a fair value big-screen option. But if you're still stuck in a standard-definition world, the L42VP01's HD bias means you should probably look elsewhere for your next TV

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6.5 Overall

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Hitachi is causing something of a stir right now by launching TVs with built-in hard disk drives. Sadly, the L42VP01 is not one of those. Rather it's a 42-inch LCD TV designed first and foremost to hit a low price -- a mere £750 -- and so entice in cash-strapped AV fans who probably didn't think they'd be able to afford a screen so large.

Even if it were a 'normal' 42-inch LCD TV, the L42VP01's £750 asking price would have looked pretty reasonable. So when you realise that the L42VP01 is actually a 'Full HD' 1080p LCD, its value rating suddenly goes off the scale.

Not that the resolution and cheap asking price are the TV's only claim to fame. It also claims to produce a contrast ratio of 10,000:1, a figure that dwarfs those quoted by the vast majority of its LCD rivals -- including some much more expensive ones.

Not surprisingly, this high contrast-ratio figure owes its existence to the L42VP01's use of a dynamic contrast system, whereby the luminance of the LCD backlight is reduced when dark scenes are detected. But although this means you have to sacrifice some brightness when watching dark scenes, it's a system now employed by practically every LCD TV around, and it generally works well enough.

Connections are fair enough for such a cheap TV, including two HDMIs (both able to take the key 1080p/24fps HD format output by most HD disc players), and a PC input. Fed a hi-def source, the L42VP01's pictures are in many ways pretty good. They're certainly very sharp, revealing every last pixel of detail from high-quality HD sources such as the Blu-ray of Casino Royale.

The set has a better stab at producing a believable deep black during dark scenes than most budget big-screen LCDs, too. What's more, it does this without the picture losing as much brightness as we would have expected.

LCD TVs commonly struggle to show fast motion properly, suffering blur and resolution loss. But here again, the L42VP01 really isn't bad at all, coping with Casino Royale's frenetic fight scenes surprisingly well.

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